The New Mexico 2nd House District race between Republican Steve Pearce and incumbent Democrat Harry Teague is rather contentious. Teague won the seat for the first time in 2008, which was actually due to Pearce vacating it when making his run for the U.S. Senate. After his run proved fruitless, Pearce announced that he would enter the running to reclaim his House seat.
Candidates for New Mexico’s 2nd Congressional District (two-year term)
(The district spans the southern portion of the state and includes Las Cruces, Roswell, and Alamogordo. See a boundary map here.)
Candidate: Harry Teague
Political experience: Teague was on the Lea County Board of Commissioners from 1999 to 2006. He served as the board’s chairman for the last three years of his tenure. Since 2009 he has represented the 2nd House District of New Mexico in Congress. He is a member of the subcommittees on Economic Opportunity, Health, Railroads and Water Resources.
Professional experience: Teague is a small businessman who has been very involved in the energy industry. He worked in the oil fields and later on owned businesses renting oilfield tools and servicing oil wells.
Key issues: Teague favors the use of government funds to help the economy and opposing a privatization of Social Security. The candidate is in favor of climate change legislation, a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants and the health care reform bill recently passed in Congress. Teague is pro-choice on abortion.
Endorsements: Teague received endorsements from the Sierra Club, the Defenders of Wildlife Action Fund and the National Education Association.
Chances of maintaining his seat: Teague, as outlined by OpenSecrets.org, managed to raise $1,513,542 of which 44 percent stems from PAC contributions and 53 percent from individual contributors. This spread shows organizational and grassroots support of the candidate’s politics, which Gov Track considers to be moderate Democratic. This positions him for success in a district that up to very recently was staunchly Republican.
Candidate: Steve Pearce
Political experience: Pearce represented District 62 in the New Mexico state house from 1996 to 2000. He held the congressional seat for which he is currently running from 2002 to 2008. In 2008, the candidate was the assistant Republican whip in the House.
Professional experience: Pearce served in the United States Air Force from 1971 to 1976. He used to own Lea Fishing Tools and also worked as a corporate pilot.
Key issues: Based on his voting record, Pearce presents as a pro-life candidate who supports the elimination of the federal estate tax but opposes government stimulus spending to jump-start the economy. He opposes a privatization of Social Security, the health care reform bill and a pathway to citizenship.
Endorsements: Numerous organizations endorse Pearce. They include Gun Owners of America, Right to Life Committee of New Mexico, Business-Industry Political Action Committee, Republication National Coalition for Life PAC, Combat Veterans for Congress and the Home School Legal Defense Association.
Chances of unseating Harry Teague: It is unclear whether home-court advantage will play out in favor of Pearce. OpenSecrets.org shows he was able to raise $1,562,432, which is only slightly more than Teague. The lion’s share of the contributions (84 percent) comes from individual donors while only 14 percent stem from PACs; this denotes a strong grassroots appeal. On the flip-side, the Cook Political Report shows that the incumbent percentage sits at 56 percent, which is tough to beat.
Key Differences between Harry Teague and Steve Pearce
Employment: Teague envisions making New Mexico the “energy capital of America.” Within the context of his energy industry experience, this translates into championing green jobs that expand on alternative energy. Pearce sees the solution for higher employment to be an active wooing for manufacturers to return to the United States.
Energy: Pearce strongly opposes the cap and trade legislation that led to an increase in electrical bills. He believes it is time to focus on domestic gas and oil production while also actively branching out into alternative energies. Teague plans on continuing his efforts to protect smaller New Mexico refineries from prohibitive taxation. He concurrently works for the setup and growth of a biofuel industry.
Veterans: Teague has actively campaigned for PTSD screenings and plans on continuing the setup of a support network that helps veterans to re-integrate into society after lengthy stints abroad. Pearce has a track record of ensuring that disabled-veteran spending increased. Even so, he is considering a program that would allow returning soldiers to seek out VA benefit “care outside the VA system.”
New Mexico‘s 2nd U.S. Congressional District
Location: The district is situated in the southern portion of the state. It includes Las Cruces, Roswell, Artesia, Carlsbad and vast portions of national forest land.
2008 results: Harry Teague won the congressional seat with 56 to 44 percent.
Demographics: According to the U.S. Census, 78.3 percent are white, 5.7 percent are American Indian, 1.9 percent are black, 0.8 percent are Asian and 10.1 percent are of another race. 49.9 percent are Latino or Hispanic of any race.
The Cook Partisan Index list the New Mexico 2nd House District as having a rating of R+6, which translates into a slight advantage for Republicans.